President Duterte on Monday, Oct. 4, told Senator Richard Gordon to pay the government to P140 million in disallowed funds he accrued when he was still chairman of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), saying the significant amount could be tapped to buy coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines.
This was Duterte’s latest tirade against Gordon, who has headed the Senate inquiry into the government’s alleged anomalous dealings with Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corp. at the time of the pandemic.
In his taped public address aired on Monday night, the Chief Executive asked the Commission on Audit (COA) to collect the money from Gordon. He alleged that the senator pocketed P86 million out of the P140 million that had been issued a notice of disallowance the state auditors.
“Bayaran mo, marami ka namang pera diyan. Personal mo ‘yan eh. Iyang disallowance, personal mo ‘yan. Ibig sabihin ‘yung 86 million napunta sa kamay mo, hindi mo ‘yan ginastos nang husto sa gobyerno. Ginamit mo ang pera o ninakaw mo, isauli mo ‘yan, personal, hindi ‘yung property ng SBMA (Pay up, you have lots of money. That’s your personal. That disallowance, that’s yours. It means that the P86 million went to your pockets, you didn’t spend it well for the government. You used the money or you stole it, give it back, it’s personal, that’s not SBMA property),” Duterte said, addressing Gordon.
The notice of disallowance from COA, he added, has been “fully sustained by the Supreme Court as final and executory”.
Duterte said the government can use that money to buy more COVID-19 vaccines. That, he added, is his purpose why he wants the senator to pay up.
“There is never enough in this government. That [P86] million would go a long way to buy so many bakunas (vaccines) needed by the Filipino people,” he stressed.
The President said he wanted the Filipinos to keep in mind that the money “went to the hands of Gordon.”
“When Gordon runs for any office, my countrymen, remember the [P140] million pati yung P86 million. Inyo yan! Sa tao yan. At ibigay natin doon kay Sec. [Carlito] Galvez para ibili niya ng medesina, COVID (That’s yours! It’s for the people. And we’ll give it to Sec. Galvez so he could use it to buy medicine, COVID),” he said.
“That’s what I’m saying, you have practically painted everybody black because you want yourself to appear white. That is the problem, Gordon,” Duterte added.
A lawyer himself, the President said that a disallowance becomes one’s personal liability if it hasn’t been returned within a period demanded.
“Pag hindi mo nabayaran (When you don’t pay) within the period demanded of you then it becomes your personal liability, and the case goes to the Ombudsman. Ang tawag n’yan (That is called) malversation. You malversed the money,” Duterte added.
Gordon returning the money will be a huge boost to the country’s COVID-19 response program, the President stressed, as it can be used to help inoculate all 110 million Filipinos. So fair, around 21 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated.
The senator has been the subject of Duterte’s ire in recent weeks because he is looking into contracts amounting to almost P10 billion that the government entered into with Pharmally, a newly registered company that has low capitalization. It bagged the billions worth of government contracts despite the lack of funds.
Pharmally is allegedly owned and headed by a Singaporean who is a wanted criminal in Taiwan. It is also partly funded by Michael Yang, Duterte’s ex-economic adviser in Malacañang.